Seven major new research and innovation projects will boost economic growth and benefit people across central Scotland, Northern Ireland, south Wales, and three areas of England.

From commercial sailing to finance, and semiconductors to health technologies, each project combines industry, local leadership and research and innovation expertise to help maximise an area’s potential and drive productivity.

The projects will receive a share of £186m government funding from UK Research and Innovation’s flagship Strength in Places Fund (SIPF) and as a result will leverage over £230m more from other sources.

The projects are led by consortia based in Glasgow, Edinburgh, Belfast, Cardiff, Bristol, Liverpool, and Kent.

  • South Wales: By strengthening a regional cluster in advanced semiconductor materials and manufacturing, this project will bring socio-economic benefits including jobs and training.
  • Northern Ireland: Building on Belfast’s shipbuilding heritage, this project will de-carbonise maritime transport by creating the UK’s most advanced composite design and manufacturing facilities.
  • Scotland: The Global Open Finance Centre of Excellence will draw on expertise from across Scotland to establish ethical standards, train new talent, and build new partnerships.
  • Scotland: Glasgow’s Precision Medicine Living Lab will be an internationally leading project focused on translating cutting-edge science and innovation into a real-world clinical setting.
  • North-west England: This project will boost productivity and generate jobs by creating eight specialist, commercially sustainable research platforms for infectious disease therapeutics.
  • South-west England: Building on the Bristol and Bath region’s strengths in screen-based media, this project will create major new R&D facilities and collaborations, support new digital formats and provide advanced training.
  • South-east England: Growing Kent & Medway will drive productivity and sustainable growth in the area by building on its rich heritage of food production to make it the UK’s leading region for climate-smart production and processing of high-value foods and plant-based compounds.

SIPF’s novel approach to public R&D investment supports projects that increase local economic growth by building on the world-class research and innovation capability in their local areas.

Each project will deliver a range of long-term benefits for regional and local economies and people including jobs, skills provision, a more competitive and modern industry, better quality of life, and more. A full list is below.

The projects have all been under development with seed-corn funding from UKRI since March 2019. Thanks to the full-stage award announced today, they can now unlock their full potential, with projects to be delivered over the coming years.

The Strength in Places Fund (SIPF) is a competitive funding scheme that funds collaborative bids from diverse consortia of publicly funded research organisations, businesses, and local leadership, to undertake research and innovation that will have a demonstrable impact on local economic growth.

It is a key part of how UK Research and Innovation, the UK’s research and innovation funding agency, has responded to the importance of ‘Place’ as part of the government’s “levelling up” agenda and directs its investment to create real, lasting impact. A cross-council UK Research and Innovation scheme, SIPF is primarily delivered by Research England and Innovate UK in partnership with the higher education funding bodies of Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland and the Office for Students.

Secretary of State  for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, Alok Sharma, said:

“Science, research, innovation and skills provision can be important drivers of productivity and economic growth throughout the regions and nations of the UK.

“This investment will support significant local economic growth in places across the country, benefitting the people who live there. They will also bring combined benefits to the whole UK by driving economic progress in key sectors such as fintech and manufacturing. I look forward to seeing the substantial outputs of these exciting projects.”

UK Research and Innovation Chief Executive, Professor Sir Mark  Walport,  said:

“UK Research and Innovation funding through the Strength in Places Fund will bring researchers, industry and local leadership together in outstanding collaborative programmes that will catalyse regional excellence and economic growth across the UK.”

Research England’s Executive Chair, David Sweeney, who leads the Strength in Places Fund,  said :

“UK Research and Innovation’s flagship Strength in Places Fund is distinctive in specifically targeting investment to foster the local research and innovation ecosystems that can support sustained growth.

“All of these projects have the potential to deliver research and innovation that will transform activity within their target industries, in a way that is deeply rooted in local strengths and well linked to wider local economic plans.

“And, with a second wave of Strength in Places funding already in the pipeline, we look forward to broadening the reach of that impact to further projects in other areas of the country in future.”


The seven projects funded today are:

 

South Wales: CS Connected

The CS Connected SIPF project focuses on strengthening an emerging regional cluster in advanced semiconductor materials and manufacturing to bring socio-economic benefits to South Wales. The cluster already hosts 1,400 high value manufacturing jobs in the region, and is delivering well above average contributions to productivity, global exports and regional Gross Value Add (GVA) across a well-defined ~$100B global market opportunity. The primary aim of the project is to develop a global advantage in a sovereign, key enabling technology which will allow the UK to increase trade globally in critical sectors such as communications, 5G, autonomous and electric vehicles, medical devices. It will also include a significant provision of training to enhance skills across the region through a compound semiconductor skills academy.

Consortium Lead: Cardiff University

Consortium partners: CSconnected Ltd, Swansea University, Compound Semiconductor Centre Ltd, IQE PLC, Newport Wafer Fab Ltd, SPTS Technologies Ltd, Compound Semiconductor Applications Catapult Ltd, Microlink Devices UK LTD, Cardiff Council, Rockley Photonics Ltd and Welsh Government

Strength in Places Fund investment: £25m

Total project value including leveraged funding from other sources: £44m

Northern Ireland: Decarbonisation of Maritime Transportation – a Return to Commercial Sailing

This project will kick start a shipbuilding resurgence right in the heart of Belfast harbour. It will build on Belfast’s proud maritime heritage, world leading expertise in advanced manufacturing, and renewable energy, to develop zero emissions hydrofoiling ferries, and a maritime transport system of the future. It will develop an education programme and route to high skilled jobs for people in some of the most socially deprived areas of the Belfast region, establish a ferry pilot scheme in the Belfast area, and position Belfast as a global leader in zero emissions maritime technology.

Consortium Lead: Artemis Technologies Ltd

Consortium partners: Ards & North Down Borough Council, Belfast City Council, Belfast Harbour, Belfast Met, Bombardier Belfast, Catalyst, Creative Composites, Energia Group, Invest Northern Ireland, NIACE (Northern Ireland Advanced Composites and Engineering), Queen’s University Belfast, and Ulster University.

Strength in Places Fund investment: £33m

Total project value including leveraged funding from other sources: £63m

Scotland: Global Open Finance Centre of Excellence

The Global Open Finance Centre of Excellence (GOFCoE) will develop world-class technology and education that will enhance financial services and deliver social and economic benefits. It will provide a trusted environment to address pressing societal challenges and research around Open Finance, aiming to rebalance markets in favour of consumers and deliver long-term research insights into public earning, spending and saving. It will draw on expertise from across Scotland’s universities, financial services and financial technology sectors and will establish ethical standards, train new talent to expand the sector, and build local, national and international partnerships.

Consortium partners: University of Edinburgh, the Financial Data and Technology Association (FDATA) Global and Fintech Scotland

Strength in Places Fund investment: £23m

Total project value including leveraged funding from other sources: £55m

Scotland: The Living Laboratory

The University of Glasgow’s Precision Medicine Living Lab will be an internationally leading project focused on translating cutting-edge science and innovation into a real-world clinical setting. The Living Lab will be situated at the University of Glasgow academic campus adjacent to the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital in Govan. It will build on the existing world-leading ecosystem already in place in the city and, by facilitating even more cross-sector collaborations, will address the biggest challenge currently facing Precision Medicine: the translation of research innovation into clinical practice for the benefit of patients. The Living Lab is projected to deliver 446 high-value jobs and £136m GVA over an eight-year period.

Consortium Lead: University of Glasgow

Consortium partners: Thermo Fisher Scientific, Canon Medical Research Europe Ltd, Siemens Healthcare Ltd, NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde Health Board, Bioclavis, Aridhia, MR Coiltech Ltd, Glasgow Science Centre, Scottish Enterprise, Glasgow City Council, Kadans Science Partner UK Ltd, Precision Medicine Scotland, and iCAIRD Ltd

Strength in Places Fund investment: £38m

Total project value including leveraged funding from other sources: £91m

North-west England: Delivering Integrated Solutions for Human Infections

Based in the Liverpool City Region and Cheshire and Warrington, this academia/industry/NHS North West consortium will deliver integrated solutions for human infections. It will boost economic and regional productivity by creating eight specialist, commercially sustainable research platforms for infectious disease therapeutics in north-west England that transform the efficiency of new product discovery, development, evaluation and impact assessment. The project will generate jobs and value for the Liverpool City Region and Cheshire and Warrington, and attract substantive international investment.

Consortium lead: Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine

Consortium partners: Liverpool University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, AMR Centre Ltd, Evotec (UK) Ltd, Unilever Plc, University of Liverpool

Strength in Places Fund investment: £19m

Total project value including leveraged funding from other sources: £114m

South-west England: My World

The creative economy is one of the world’s most rapidly growing sectors.

MyWorld will build on the creative media production, technology and research strengths of the Bristol and Bath region. It will invest in major new collaborative facilities, fund innovative R&D programmes and support the talent pipeline in this key sector, exploiting digital formats to create new experiences across fiction, documentary, games and live performance. MyWorld will boost productivity, enhance international collaboration and create a platform for inward investment and new jobs, transitioning the region’s creative cluster from one of the best in the UK to one of the best in the world.

Consortium lead: University of Bristol

Consortium partners: University of Bath, University of the West of England, Bath Spa University, BBC, British Telecom, Digital Catapult, Aardman Animations Ltd, Bristol Old Vic and Theatre Royal Trust Ltd, Watershed Arts Trust Ltd, Burrell Durrant Hifle Design & Direction Ltd, Esprit Film and Television Ltd, Opposable Games Ltd, BMT Defence Services Limited, Ultrahaptics Ltd, Motion Impossible Ltd, John Downer Productions Ltd, Zubr Virtual Reality Ltd, Mustang Films Ltd, Limina Immersive Ltd, Films At 59 Ltd, Rocketmakers Ltd, Knowle West Media Centre, Complete Control (UK) Ltd, Nulight Studios Ltd, Engine Shed, Bristol Games Hub Ltd, Silverback Films Ltd

Strength in Places Fund investment: £30m

Total project value including leveraged funding from other sources: £46m

South-east England: Growing Kent and Medway

This world-class research, innovation and enterprise platform will develop Kent and Medway as the UK’s leading region for the climate-smart production and processing of high-value foods and plant-based compounds. Increased investment in emerging technologies such as AI, automation and smart packaging for food production will enable the sector to be more efficient in resource use, minimise/re-use waste and produce safe, affordable, nutritious produce, foods and plant-based compounds. Growing Kent & Medway will drive innovation, productivity and sustainable growth in an area with significant socio-economic growth potential by building on its rich heritage of food production.

Consortium lead: NIAB EMR at East Malling

Consortium partners: Berry Gardens Growers, Kent County Council, Medway Council, Chapel Down Group Plc, Gusbourne Estate Ltd, Locate in Kent Ltd, APS Produce Ltd, Thanet Earth Ltd, University of Kent, Worldwide Fruit Ltd, NRI-University of Greenwich, Geku UK Ltd, Smurfit Kappa UK Ltd, Richard Hochfeld Ltd

Strength in Places Fund investment: £18m

Total project value including leveraged funding from other sources: £33m